Inbound Marketing vs
For all of you service-based entrepreneurs today I want to talk about client acquisition through outbound and inbound marketing. I’ve experimented with both and have had interesting results that helped inform my current inbound marketing strategy. I think it’s important to try several types of marketing strategies since what works for one business doesn’t mean that it’ll work for your business as well. So what is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? Outbound marketing involves approaching potential clients and customers in an attempt to sell your goods or services. Inbound marketing refers to bringing potential customers to you as opposed to you looking for them (sounds pretty ideal, right!).
Outbound Marketing: Pro’s & Cons
When I first started Little Trailer Studio I developed a launch campaign to let people know I was open for business. But to push the launch further I cold emailed a few people and brands that I wanted to work with and brands that we had partnered with while I worked at Pressed Juicery. Even if I hadn’t worked with that individual, the fact that I worked at Pressed Juicery helped establish a connection so it wasn’t a straight up cold call. Many of these brands were really excited to hear I was going out on my own and were interested in my services. I was able to book a few illustration projects from these cold calls. These cold emails were beneficial to me in getting my name out there and letting people know I was setting up shop.
What I don’t like about outbound marketing is that I feel like I’m begging someone to hire me. For me personally, when I have cold emailed potential clients about my branding services none of them were interested in booking my services. When it comes to illustration, however, brands are more responsive to that and I have been able to book projects through cold emailing. I think one reason for this is that a lot of my ideal clients are creative entrepreneurs who are major DIY-ers. What that means is that many of them create their own branding and their own websites. So when I send a cold email I’m basically saying that their branding and websites are not up to par. No matter how friendly I make my email, I can’t ensure that they’re going to take it the right way. One person I emailed was happy that I reached out to her but she told me that she was a creative director at Modcloth and does not need branding help so I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward about that encounter. To be frank, I think I’m much too sassy to do outbound marketing, I’m like a cat that wants you to know I want to be pet but I don’t want to ask you to pet me (all of you cat lovers I think you’ll know what I mean!).
The other reason why I don’t like outbound marketing is that when you approach someone with a business idea, it’s harder to get them on board if it wasn’t their idea to begin with because it didn’t happen organically. I don’t like starting a partnership by having to convince someone that they need something. So I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know that outbound marketing for my branding and web design services is not part of my marketing strategy. Some people are really great at cold emailing and outbound marketing like my friend Rachel of Process/Progress. She’s really good at putting herself out there and talking to people about her services. So I’ve outlined some cold emailing tips below that she shared with me.
Tips for Cold Emailing
Don’t be sleazy and keep it friendly. No one likes that telemarketer that tries to sell you something in the middle of dinner time or that sleazy used car salesman that is trying to sell you something without even asking what you’re really looking for.
The Intro: In order to stray away from sounding sleazy, let them know what about their business you admire or like. Also let them know what they are doing right in their business. In the intro of your email you might also include how you found them. If they are a blogger you can let them know how long you’ve been following along with their blog, let them know if there is a favorite blog post you have. The purpose of the intro is to show that you are not a random person reaching out to them and that you understand their business and you care about their needs. It’s important that the email comes across as personal.
The Pitch: What’s worked for me is when my pitch is short and sweet. Be upfront and let the person you’re emailing that you’d love to work with them on xyz. You might mention what other clients you’ve had and the issues you’ve helped them solve.
Closing: End your email by thanking them for their time and letting them know that you are available to hop on a call to discuss further. Be sure to include your website link and other relevant links.
Inbound Marketing: Pro’s & Cons
Inbound marketing is by far how I prefer to market Little Trailer Studio. It is more closely related to content marketing, PR, and it allows me to be myself and talk about my services without feeling like I’m selling to people. Some ways that I use inbound marketing is through my blog. When I write about topics that are important to my audience it shows that I know what issues they might be facing, it also allows me to establish myself as an expert, and it shows that I can think in a big picture way beyond just graphic design and web design.
Social media is also a great way to draw people into my brand. Instagram, for example, isn’t just an outlet for me to post pretty pictures. Instagram allows me to give people an inside look at my business and allows people to get to know me. The truth about websites is that once I go to a website I’m not likely to revisit it unless it’s a blog. But through social media you can engage with potential customers and clients and remind them that you exist.
I recently booked a client through LinkedIn. We first met at an event and I had just launched Little Trailer Studio. We exchanged business cards and added each other on LinkedIn. After that we didn’t really keep in touch. When the time came for her to launch her podcast she decided to come to me, not because she remembered me from that one event, but because she sees my LinkedIn posts so often. If it wasn’t for my LinkedIn posts she probably would have completely forgotten about me. That is a prime example of how I booked a client through inbound marketing.
One con about inbound marketing is that you have to ensure what you’re sharing is content that your audience will find both useful and interesting. If you’re posting content that is only interesting (ie pretty pictures of your latte) this probably won’t translate to them wanting to book your services. So be sure you are creating content that is useful to your audience. When my most recent client booked me to brand her podcast, it was because she saw me constantly writing LinkedIn posts that were relevant to her. So when it came time to look for a graphic designer/brand strategist, I was the first person she thought of.
So as you can see content marketing is a great way to draw people in to your brand and services. I wrote a another blog posts that takes an in-depth look in how you can create a content marketing strategy for your business or side hustle. Read it here: Rock Your Content Marketing.
What has your experience been in marketing and client acquisition? Do you prefer one over the other? Share your business development tips below, I’d love to hear about them!